Grocery Shopping Part 2: The Reality

I’ve developed a relationship with a vendor, Beth, in the open air fruit and vegetable market just 15 minutes’ walk from my house. Therefore I don’t normally take advantage of the Friday specials mentioned in Grocery Shopping: Part 1. Instead I grab a back pack and some extra plastic bags, walk to the market, load up on fresh items I need for the week and walk back, many times very overloaded! I love Beth’s smile and the interactions we have. She almost always tries to encourage me to use my Swahili and often I leave with an extra present or two for being a long time, repeat customer (or because Little Bear is just so cute and friendly!). By the time I reach home I am tired and sweaty but feel accomplished.

I carefully wash everything, especially the items we like to eat raw. In the past I obsessed about keeping things REALLY clean. I washed them in bleach water and rinsed them in filtered water. Now I’m not nearly as meticulous, besides bleach can’t be healthy either! I use filtered water and vinegar for most things and let air dry on a towel.

A trip to the grocery store means working around Little Bear’s naps, a normal mommy thing, and unpredictable traffic patterns, a normal Kenya thing. I also evaluate security risks for the day before choosing where to shop. As I pull in to park the guards search my vehicle. Pushing the button for the parking ticket also raises the gate and I carefully maneuver our lifted monster truck that is too tall to enter most parking garages. Little Bear and I enter the store where a female guard checks my bag and my person.

Then it’s shopping as normal. I make sure to stock up on things like Bob’s Mill grits and Heinz ketchup that might be missing from the shelves next time I come. While I can buy a bag of chocolate chips, at about $6 per bag it’s usually out of my price range. I buy milk in 500ml bags and can have meat packaged in any amount I want as long as I use kilograms and not pounds.

Checking out I can pay using cash or credit and have my groceries put in “paper” bags (which are actually plastic) or boxes. Then to the ticket machine to pay, pack everything in the truck, out the gate and back home. I’m thankful that I no longer have to climb to the fourth floor with all my food items. There are perks to ground floor living!